Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Person of Jen

I remember as a kid having to fill out forms that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I never knew how to fill in the blank because I didn't feel a calling to any particular profession. I did have some ideas about the kind of person I wanted to be, and I thought that was the more important question.

It wasn't until I learned about Confucianism that I knew what I should have written in all those blanks: When I grow up I want to be a Person of Jen.

"The Chinese term jen has been translated into English as "humanity," "benevolence," "goodness," "Perfect Goodness," etc. It is a difficult concept to translate because it doesn't really refer to any specific type of virtue or positive endowment, but refers to an inner capacity possessed by all human beings to do good, as human beings should. In the Chinese "essence-function" perception, jen can be understood as the essence of all kinds of manifestations of virtuosity: wisdom, filial piety, reverence, courtesy, love, sincerity, etc., all of which are aspects, or functions of jen. Through one's efforts at practicing at the function of jen, one may enhance and develop one's jen, until one may be called a Superior Man, or even better, a "Person of jen.""

I think about this whenever I'm at a crossroads, when one path ends and I'm like now what? Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I want to be a force of love and goodness. I'm sure I have failed at this many times, but I will keep trying.

I don't know the details of what the future holds. Only that it will be awesome. Because if I try to do everything with love, awesomeness will ensue. 

Lyric of the moment: "Jen, put your arms around someone soft. Take it as it comes, trust your heart, trust me. You know it, Jen..."

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